Can philosophy lead us to Jesus?

philosophy

Until relatively recently, in world history, it has been widely understood that there is a larger power at play in the world.  Societies have engaged the supernatural world in a variety of ways, creating some major world religions and countless tribal traditions celebrating the unknown, creating images to worship and developing folklore to explain the inexpiable.  As philosophy has developed over the centuries and as it was influenced by scientific theories – namely evolution – a growing number of people began to reject the idea of the supernatural, an eternal soul, and ultimately meaning in life.

Philosophy and science can lead us right into the arms of God, or they can lead us directly away.  Many of the greatest minds throughout history in both the scientific and philosophical world were Christians, and their studies and theories enhanced their faith.  Others were not, but we have much that we can learn from them as well.  When we live without faith, we seek to enhance our pleasure while on the world.  We are unsure, at best, if there is an after life and we long to make our earthly lives as comfortable and enjoyable as possible.  We have all watched in amazement, however, as some of the most successful, beautiful, outwardly happy people kill themselves and throw away their lives.  It is because when people have attained everything that this world has to offer, they are still left unsatisfied and wanting.

C.S. Lewis, a great philosopher, was led to theism and ultimately to faith in Jesus Christ because of this very reality.  He was not yet a believer, but had become convinced of the existence of God when he made this profound statement:

“A man’s physical hunger does not prove that that man will get any bread: he may die of starvation on a raft in the Atlantic. But surely a man’s hunger does prove that he comes of a race which repairs its body by eating, and inhabits a world where eatable substances exist.”  In other words, “If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world.”

– C.S. Lewis

The Bible verbalizes this truth in a variety of ways as well.

“He who loves money will not be satisfied with money, nor he who loves abundance with its income. This too is vanity.”

– Ecc 5.10

“As for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy. They are to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, thus storing up treasure for themselves as a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is truly life.”

– 1 Tim 6.17-19

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.”

– Matt 5.6

No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.”

– Mat 6.24

“For we know that if the tent that is our earthly home is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.”

– 2 Cor 5.1

Even when our Earthly tent (our bodies) are destroyed, even if everything we own gets swallowed up in fire, we will find our eternal home and fullest pleasure with God in eternity.  Thus, seeking to attain pleasure here on the Earth is futile and impossible, if we strive for money and worldly pleasure.  We may experience moments of happiness, but it will not ultimately satisfy.  It will not last.

Do you know that you were made for another world?  Or are you still storing up your treasures here on Earth, where moth and rust destroy?  Have you bought into the lie that philosophy and science do not serve God?  He is the creator of the mind, the universe, the natural laws and there is nothing that will be found or tested that will ever disprove His existence or the Bible.  Science and philosophy are His tools, and tools that can help us to understand Him and the world around us better.  Let us reclaim our thought life, our jobs and our pleasures for God.  Let’s not put Him in a little box that we take out on Sunday mornings and keep separate from everything else.  We were created for another world, and for relationship with Him.  Let’s live for that.

What exactly is “Done”?

service

It is a glorious truth that the Old Covenant, the Law which God commanded to Moses and by which the Hebrew people sought to maintain their favor with God was a list of commandments and expectations.  It’s sole purpose, we learn in the New Testament, was to point forward to Jesus and prove the depravity of man.  There is no man who can keep the Law – the holy expectations of God – and make himself acceptable to God (Rom 7).  The New Covenant, the provision which God has offered us through the perfect life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ is the relief from that bondage.  It had been said that the Old Covenant proclaims, “Do” while the New Covenant proclaims “Done”.

There is no greater gift than grace, the fact that we are incapable of earning God’s favor and yet He loved us enough to punish our sin in Jesus and offer us His righteousness.  Since we are incapable of being good enough, He gave us a substitute.  Jesus took our punishment and paid our debt.  We can be made pure in the eyes of God by being hidden in the blood of Jesus.

When we recognize, however, that Jesus died because of our sin, and when we recognize the weight of the price He paid to free us from the bondage of effort, we learn to love the things that God loves and hate the things that God hates.  We hate our sin.  We hate our sin because it cost Jesus His life, because it displeases God and because it dishonors God.  If there is any sin in our lives that we love or over which we are not broken, it is very possible that we are not saved.

How can we know that?  Simply put, the moment we come to Jesus for salvation – when we recognize our guilt, confess our sins and ask Jesus to cover us by His redemption, we are made Spiritually alive by being given the Holy Spirit to indwell us.  The role of the Holy Spirit is to convict us of sin and push us on to righteousness:

“And [the Holy Spirit], when He comes, will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment…”

– John 16.8

Therefore, if we are not recognizing our sin, if we are not being convicted of it, and if we are not repenting of it, then we can understand that the Holy Spirit is not at work in our lives.  What should we do if we are in such a state?  Confess our sins and ask Jesus for the gift of the Holy Spirit!  As we develop the Spiritual disciplines of prayer, reading the Scripture and spending time with God, we will know His heart and the Holy Spirit will convict us.  We must be on guard against sin – sin is what condemns us before God.  We cannot drift and expect to grow Spiritually.  We cannot be passive agents in our Spiritual life.  We must press into God and the allow the Holy Spirit to transform us.

“Prayer will make a man cease from sin, or sin will entice a man to cease from prayer.”

– John Bunyan

Does that mean that the New Covenant does not really mean, “Done”?  This oversimplification of the two covenants can be extremely helpful and at the same time extremely dangerous.  There are different aspects to our salvation, and perhaps the most glorious is justification.  Justification is a legal term by which one is declared redeemed.  It does not mean “Just as if I had never sinned”, because we are not restored to a place of innocence and our sinful nature removed.  It means “punishment paid”.  We all deserve the eternal death sentence for our sin, and Jesus paid that for us.  This is our legal standing before the Heavenly courtroom in which God is the judge, Jesus is our advocate or lawyer and Satan is the prosecutor.  Jesus does not respond to God and try to disprove our guilt when Satan accuses us, He stands there and simply says “time served” for every offense.

In this sense, the New Covenant proclaims “done”.  Once we have been justified, all of our sins past, present and future have been covered.  We are not declared welcome into eternity because our punishment has been served.  However, the ongoing process of sanctification – that change by which we die to our sins and are made more like Jesus – is not completed, and we must be active participants in it.  John Owen paraphrased 1 John thus:

“Be killing sin or it will be killing you.”

Jesus said that we will be known by our fruit.  Paul teach us to work our our salvation with fear and trembling, being diligent to fight against sin.  We are not passive in sanctification, we are killing our flesh and pressing on to holiness.  In this sense, our salvation is not “done”, but is in process.  It does not mean that our justification is capable of being lost, rather we prove our justification by pressing on in our sanctification.  We prove that we have confessed our sins and turned to Jesus by hating our sin and ceasing from it.  When we are saved, when we are indwelt by the Holy Spirit, we love God and we want to honor God, and we understand that our sanctification glorifies God.

“My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples.”

– John 15.8

How then do we balance law and grace?  Do we do what we want, and hope that it is not sinful?  Do we despair when we have to choose to do the right thing even though our hearts are not in it?  C.S. Lewis offers us this beautiful help:

“A perfect man would never act from a sense of duty; he’d always want the right thing more than the wrong one. Duty is only a substitute for love (of God and of other people) like a crutch which is a substitute for a leg. Most of us need the crutch at times; but of course it is idiotic to use the crutch when our own legs (our own loves, tastes, habits, etc.) can do the journey on their own.”

There will be times when our hearts long for revenge, for sinful pleasure, for indulgence or any other worldly sin.  Even after we have been saved (justified), and even after we have walked for years down the path of sanctification.  Only a perfect man would always long to do what God commands, and we know that we will only be perfected when we shed our Earthly bodies.  Until then, we will be left with the dichotomy of flesh and Spirit.  We are saved and yet still have our sinful nature.  We enjoy the pleasures of sin and the world and yet long for the pleasures of Jesus and eternity.  Thus we utilize the commandments of Jesus as a crutch by which we choose to do the right thing, even when we do not desire to do the right thing.

We continue to “Do” even though our salvation has been secured by what Jesus has “Done”.  We act out of love for God and thankfulness for His salvation, and at times out of discipline – not to earn God’s favor, but to please the one who gave everything so that we might be saved.

What then shall I do with this Jesus?

It has become fairly common to say, “There are two types of people in the world” and follow it up with the group who loves, does, looks like or forbids something.  The other type of people are those who hate, do not, or accepts that same thing.  There are givers and takers.  There are those who love frogs and those who hate frogs.  There are those who read the email messages on their phones and those who do not.

email

We can make the same assessment about faith, and pointedly about Christians:  There are Christians and there are non-Christians.  We all know that there are five major world religions, and countless sects and traditional/tribal belief systems, and the generalization can be made about any belief system.  Muslims would say that you are not headed to paradise unless you confess the prophet, Jews would say that you are damned if you are not a Jew.  Some of the inclusivist or reincarnation-centered religions would not make as black and white a distinction, but would consider some further along in their enlightenment than others.

But we as Christians believe that the sinful nature of humanity has separated us from God and the only way for that relationship to be established is by His grace through the work of Jesus Christ.  Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth and the life.  No man comes unto the Father but through me.”  We believe that Jesus is the way, He is the gate and the final judge who will welcome or refuse people into eternity with God.  Therefore, while we could flippantly say “There are Christians and there are non-Christians”, we recognize the fact that everyone must ultimately answer the single most important question in all of the world, “What do I believe about Jesus?”

When Jesus was on trial, the religious leaders took Him before Pontius Pilate, the governor.  He was a Roman official, and the Jews brought Jesus to him so that Jesus could be put to death.  We see Pilate in all four Gospel accounts of Jesus’ trial, and his efforts to not find Jesus guilty.  In Matthew Pilate washes his hands of Jesus’ blood, in Mark he finds Jesus innocent of plotting against the Roman Empire, in Luke we see him declaring Jesus as innocent for the conspiracy, as well as Herod Antipas, and in John he states, “I find no guilt in Him.”  Pilate did not want to execute Jesus, and his wife had a dream about Jesus and warned him not to harm Jesus.  Seeking to manipulate the crowds, Pilate brought forward Barabbas, a notorious thief, and asked the crowd which man should be released.  By direction of the priests, the crowd chose Barabbas.

When this plan was foiled, he asked the crowd,

“Then what shall I do with Jesus who is called Christ?”

 – Matt 22.27

Here we see the governmental authority asking this most important of questions, the one which we must all answer.  What shall I do with Jesus who is called Christ?  Pilate’s response was inadequate.  He sought to keep the guilt from himself, the crowd called the condemnation of guilt upon themselves, but Pilate still handed Jesus over to be crucified – even after acknowledging the fact that He had no guilt and after being warned by his wife.

It is tempting to try to take this middle road.  Most of us are not interested in ruffling feathers and causing division or problems.  So we try to say that Jesus was a good man, a great teacher, an example for us all.  But we want to leave all of His claims and instructions at the door.  Was Jesus really God?  Did He really imply that we should love our neighbor in the same way that we love ourselves?  That is impossible!  Do we really have to put aside all of our sinful pleasures and live unto God?  Do we really have to go into all the world – even the dangerous parts – and make disciples?  Do we really have to love our enemies and forgive people?

It is easy to give Jesus a blanket approval when we do not know what He actually said.  But the moment we start reading His commandments and expectations of people, we realize that we will never be able to do the things that He expects of us without the empowering of the Holy Spirit.  The rich young man had kept all of the laws of the Old Covenant, tithing, caring for his family, giving to the poor, but Jesus knew that he loved money and to test the man’s surrender to God, He commanded him to sell everything he owned, give it to the poor and follow Jesus.  This man could not do it and went away sad.  Jesus wants our everything, and if there is nothing that we cannot surrender for the sake of following Him, then we are not saved.  This is not simply a “good idea” or example, this is a radical teaching.

C. S. Lewis argued the point beautifully:

“I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him:  I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept His claim to be God.  That is the one thing we must not say.  A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher.  He would either be a lunatic – on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg – or else he would be the Devil of Hell.  You must make your choice.  Either this man was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse.  You can shut him up for a fool, you can spit at him and kill him as a demon or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God, but let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about his being a great human teacher.  He has not left that open to us.  He did not intend to.”

The difficulty for us today is, however, that while we often acknowledge Jesus as God and Lord, we easily walk away from Church or Bible study and forget.  If Jesus is supposed to be “lord” of our lives, if He is in charge, has final say, and determines our actions, then we should be consulting him hundreds of times each day about our attitudes, our decisions, our actions… simply:  our everything.  But how often do we go to church and sing our praise songs and walk out to enjoy our hobbies, have lunch with our friends, and keep working towards the American Dream?

We all must answer the question at least once, “What then shall I do with this Jesus”, but once we have come to faith and are seeking to live the Christian life, we must still answer this question every. single. day.

So let us ask ourselves anew.  What will I do with Jesus today?  Will I submit to Him?  Obey His commands?  Die to myself and live unto Him?  Or will I just play the game, longing for Heaven without any effect on my life here and now?

We praise what we love.

conversation

Some people talk a lot.  Some people talk a little.  I personally ebb and flow on the spectrum depending on situation and environment.  But when you are meeting someone new or catching up with someone from the past, one thing is always true:  you talk about common interests.  The fun (for some) “get to know you” conversation includes the normal questions of family, history, and interests.  You are trying to find common ground on which you can connect with this new person.  Do you have a common interest?  Do you have a mutual friend?  Have you ever lived in the same city?  When you go home to visit your parents, you end up talking about people and situations from your distant past – to the joy of some, and the pain of others.  You will never live down that one story from your past in your parents’ eyes.

We talk about the things we know and love.  Not only do we not enjoy conversations about things we know little or nothing about, we simply have nothing to say about them.  I know very little about race cars.  Other than having attended High School in Indianapolis, where they have the Indy 500, I have nothing to add to a conversation about racing.  I can ask questions, but will be generally lost on the topic and quite frankly, not that interested.  But when you find that sweet spot, when you figure out what makes a person tick, you can see their eyes light up, and if you happen to have the same drive you can talk for hours.

“Your mouth is always filled with praises for what you value most.”

– C.S. Lewis

Jesus also says it quite simply:

“The good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth what is good; and the evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth what is evil; for his mouth speaks from that which fills his heart.”

– Luke 6.45

We speak that which fills our hearts.  Jesus, interestingly, puts a value on the fruit of our mouths:  it is either good or evil.  Our comfortable Christianity teaches us that there are three categories:  good, evil and neutral.  But Jesus had a much more black and white outlook.  Either something is glorifying to God and therefore good, or it is evil.  Either an action or word is out of faith and therefore good, or it is evil.  Either a word is edifying to those who hear it, or it is evil (1 Cor 10.31, Rom 14.23, Eph 4.29).

Does that mean that we cannot talk about anything other than Jesus, Church and theology?  No, but it means that everything we think, say and do should be done intentionally to the glory and honor of God.  Eating, drinking, singing, working, playing, talking, you name it.  And if we fill up our hearts with Jesus and His Word, then we will bring forth actions and words that glorify Him, even if they are not directly about Him.  He will still be the driving force behind them.

It will be a natural occurrence that we fill up our hearts with Jesus and His Word when we love Him, not a chore.  Sometimes we like to make excuses for ourselves to say that we are too busy, we have responsibilities, etc.  But we always make time for those things that are important to us!  If you know you have a standing appointment at the gym on Tuesdays and Thursdays, you don’t plan coffee with friends during those times.  If you teach Sunday School before Church every week, you do not enroll in a soccer team that plays games on Sunday mornings!  We plan our activities and events around those things that we value most.  And, quite frankly, we let others (and Jesus) know that they are not that important to us when we schedule something else over a standing appointment (or Church and prayer).

Too busy to pray?  John Piper has eloquently stated,

“One of the great uses of Twitter and Facebook will be to prove at the last day that prayerlessness was not from a lack of time.”

– John Piper

What do you value?  Is Jesus and His Word saturating your heart such that everything that comes out is glorifying to Him and edifying to one another?  Can you confidently say that you are eating, drinking, speaking, resting and playing by faith and to the glory of God?  Your mouth is praising something today, what is it?

 

Are you still concerned about Paris or Syria?

adhd

We are one day shy of the three week mark past the attacks on Paris.  The resulting conversation about Syrian [and all] refugees lasted nearly a week.  For three whole days we were concerned about our veterans, our homeless and children in foster care – because they are, after all, more important that foreigners who need help.

But already the facebook profile pictures are back to normal – no more French flags are seen…veterans, orphans and the homeless have been as quickly forgotten as the refugees who are running for their lives.  All because we have the attention span of toddlers.

When was the last time something truly grabbed your attention?  Is there anything in your life that drives you?  By which you are convicted?

If you call yourself a Christian, Jesus must be that.  If you read and study the teachings of Jesus, you come to realize that He demands our lives.  You cannot consider Jesus simply a “good teacher” or someone from whom we can learn some things.  He was either a complete lunatic or someone to whom we must devote our lives.  He claimed to be God.  He claimed to offer us eternal life.  He demands full devotion.  We cannot fall in between complete denial or complete devotion.

“I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him:  I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept his claim to be God.  That is the one thing we must not say.  A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher.  He would either be a lunatic – on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg – or else he would be the Devil of Hell.  You must make your choice.  Either this man was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse.  You can shut him up for a fool, you can spit at him and kill him as a demon or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God, but let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about his being a great human teacher.  He has not left that open to us.  He did not intend to.”

– C. S. Lewis

We float from thought to thought, from meme to meme, and even in or workplace we need breaks to maintain the highest production level and ingenuity.  But Jesus intends to transform us from the core.  Before we begin the Christian walk, Scripture describes us as dead in our trespasses (Eph 2.1).  We are wicked and incapable of doing anything righteous or glorifying to God (Rom 3.10).  But when we give our lives to Jesus, He takes out that heart of stone and replaces it with a heart of flesh (Ez 11.19), and He causes us to become a new creation (2 Cor 5.17).

When you go from being single to being married, everything in your life changes.  Well, it should change.  When you go from being not a parent to a parent, every decision you make is altered.  Your entire identity changes, and your entire lifestyle and decision making is forever changed.

So it must be when we become a new creature in Christ.  When Jesus gives us a heart of flesh, when the Holy Spirit abides within us, we can no longer make a decision without the influence of God.  If we can go about our days and never give God a second thought, then we should be greatly concerned about our Spiritual well being.  You must breathe to be alive.  In the same manner, you must interact with God on a Spiritual level to be alive Spiritually.

Jesus is not a fad.  The Gospel is not a news story that comes and goes in a week.  Salvation is not a life event that happens and from which we move on like graduation.  Christianity is our identity, and a relationship which must be nurtured.  Let us discipline our minds and hearts today.  Let us recognize the life changes that can and should come with submitting to Jesus as Lord in our lives.  Let us fight to maintain a mindset that is focused on eternity, and not float from crisis to crisis, from good thought to good thought, but let us meditate on God and abide in Him today.

To forgive the inexcusable.

forgive

I was raised in a household that was relatively consistent and God-focused.  We had rules, we had expectations, we had family devotions, and doing the right thing – the God-honoring thing – was praised.  I experienced the loss of a few friends in High School, and learning how to process death and eternity only helped me to develop a more eternal focus as a young person.  The grace of God was praised and understood to be the greatest gift possible, but it was not until I was in my mid twenties that I first-hand understood the expectation, ability and grace of extending the grace that had been given me.

In order to become a Christian, in order to “be saved” or to “be born again”, we must first understand that we are sinners and the eternal consequence of our sin is death and damnation.  That is the very reason that we need a savior.  We will understand that fact on various levels when we come to faith.  A child might understand that disobeying his mother and lying to his friends is sinful and that God is angry about that sin.  An eighty year old man might carry the weight of a lifetime of one particular sin or set of various sins ranging from pride to theft, adultery or even murder.  Regardless of our life experience or age, we must understand the simple fact that we are hopelessly separated from God because of our sin.  This is why Jesus said,

“I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.”

– Luke 5.32

Jesus is not stating here that there are righteous out there, He is making the point that there are none who are are righteous on their own and His purpose is to draw sinners to repentance.  No matter what sin, no matter what age.  If you feel the conviction of the Spirit in your life pointing out sins and drawing you to change, then you are a child of God.  Jesus’ death and substitution in our place is adequate to cover any and all sins, we need only confess them and repent from them.

As we grow in our faith and get to know God more intimately, we will realize progressively the depth of our sins.  Even the eighty year old man who understands a lifetime of sin will walk through a process of maturation and understanding with God after he repents of his sins and begins walking in faith.  And the more we understand our guilt, the more we will understand God’s grace and the depth of His forgiveness.  To this experience, Jesus states:

“For this reason I say to you, her sins, which are many, have been forgiven, for she loved much; but he who is forgiven little, loves little.”

– Luke 7.47

If you do not understand your sin, your sinful state, and the punishment you deserve, then the grace of God is of little or no consequence to you.  It is no big thing for God to welcome you into Heaven eternally because you think you deserve it, or you only committed small offenses which God could overlook or forgive easily.  The one who is forgiven little loves little.  This means he cannot love God, and he cannot love others.  He will be unwilling to forgive others who offend him, he will be unwilling and unable to offer grace, because he himself has not received it.

The one who has been forgiven much, conversely, loves much!  This person recognizes his sin guilt, is amazed at the grace offered, and responds in gratefulness and love.  This person, in return, can turn to others and graciously love and forgive others who offend him, because he understands the grace that has been given.  And the more deeply we understand the weight of the cross, the depth of our sin, and the measure by which we have been forgiven, the more deeply we will love and forgive others.

“To be a Christian means to forgive the inexcusable because God has forgiven the inexcusable in you.”

-C.S. Lewis

It is not every day that someone sins against us in what we would naturally consider an “inexcusable” way.  Different cultures respond to offense differently, and while there are some who tend to harbor grudges and allow feuds and multi-generational hatred develop, every culture and every person has forgiven someone something on some level.  Perhaps someone stepped on his foot, told him a white lie, ate his left overs or borrowed his car and did not fill up the gas tank.  These are easily forgivable offenses for most people.

But consider that God calls our focus and service to self adultery.  He has forgiven us the sin of adultery.  How many people would forgive their spouses the sin of adultery?  And not just a one-time offense, but serial adultery?

God, being holy in nature, cannot overlook any sin, and all sin is punishable by death and damnation.  Adam and Eve brought the curse upon all of creation by eating a piece of fruit that God had forbidden.  Have you ever eaten a forbidden cookie?  God’s holiness will not excuse that, it will only punish it.  If you have confessed your sins and asked Jesus to place that sin under the fountain of His blood, then that sin has already been punished and you are considered redeemed.  All sin will be punished.  Either in eternity through damnation, or in the death of Jesus Christ.  We cannot and should not seek to add to God’s wrath.  Rather, we are commanded to love as He loved us.

Thus, C. S. Lewis states that it is not an option for us to love and forgive, but it is the very mark of a Christian.  If you have been forgiven, Jesus says, you will forgive and love in like manner.

So how is your grudge level today?  How is your forgiveness level?  Are you resting in and praising Jesus for His grace and forgiveness?  Are you pouring out grace and forgiveness in the same manner you are receiving it?  Let us learn to love like Jesus, so much so that we will be known by our love and forgiveness.

The Final Report.

don't waste your life

What are you doing with your life?  Are you on the path to financial security?  Do you have your 401k set up, putting in the max every year so that you can retire comfortably?  Are you paying off your house and saving up your pennies so that one day, when you are too tired to want to do anything, you will be able to do whatever you want?  I am a 32 year old newly wed who lives in Denver, CO and this affords me a unique opportunity to watch a micro sect of our society closely:  the millennials trying to make sense of life.

I am from the midwest, and most of my high-school and college friends are married, ten years into their careers, with a few kids, a house and a dog.  But cities like Denver attract those who have most fully bought into the pervasive mindset of our generation that our education demands that we be rewarded with high paying jobs, and these jobs are those that have meaning and purpose.  Those whom we idolize the most are those who were able to innovate and/or create a solution to a world problem, and get rich doing so.  We have spent 16-20 years of our lives in school learning how to be critical thinkers who value our own opinions, and we want to be clever and get paid well for being clever.  Now, as we rapidly approach middle-age, our crises will be based more on the question, “Have I done anything meaningful?” rather than the sadness of having missed out on life.

We will have mid-life crises.  They will just look different from that baby-boomers’ crises.  Sure, some of us will divorce and marry a young person, some of us will buy expensive toys, but many of us will quit our jobs and start a new business, get involved in philanthropy and look for our position to change and impact the world.

“The long, dull, monotonous years of middle-aged prosperity or middle-aged adversity are excellent campaigning weather for the devil.”

– C. S. Lewis

But while our trials and struggles might be fueled by different passions, this is still an extremely dangerous time.  As we begin to grapple with our mortality and the meaning of life, we will try to fill it up with self-affirming achievements.  But as Christians, we know that when we die we will meet our maker and we will give an account for everything that we have done:

So then each one of us will give an account of himself to God.

– Rom 14.12

“[God] will render to each one according to his deeds.”

– Rom 2.6

And if our goal, as Christians, is to hear God say,

“His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful slave. You were faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.’

– Matt 25.23

then we can evaluate every action that we do here on the Earth by this simple question,

Is this glorifying to God?

Scripture gives us a few broad outlines for our daily tasks.  For instance, Paul teaches us that the man who does not provide for his family is the worst kind of man out there:

“But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.”

– 1 Tim 5.8

This does not mean that you have to be the most wealthy family on the block, but it does mean that men should not be lazy and should be diligent to provide for and take care of their responsibilities.  This is honoring to God.  We also know what God defines as sin, and we know how Christians are supposed to act.  It is rooted in love for God and for our neighbors (Matt 22.37-39), and it is expressed in controlling our tongues (James 1, 4) and controlling our actions (Eph 4-5).

And Jesus gave us a singular commandment as He was leaving the world to return to Heaven:

And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.  Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

– Matt 28.18-20

Are you making disciples?  Wherever you are, even if you are squarely planted in the Bible belt, are you introducing people to Jesus and teaching them how to obey Him?  Jesus gave us an assignment, and He will be the judge when we reach eternity’s gate.  Will you pass?  Will you be affirmed, “Well done”?  Or will He say, “I gave you one thing to do and you never did it!”?

“If you read history you will find that the Christians who did most for the present world were precisely those who thought most of the next. It is since Christians have largely ceased to think of the other world that they have become so ineffective in this.”

– C. S. Lewis

It is good for us to long to have meaning in our lives.  My generation has been groomed to desire purpose and satisfaction in meaningful work.  But let us be mindful to harness that energy and passion to focus on the glory of God and not our own personal legacy.  Because we will all die and we will all be forgotten.  But what we have done in obedience to God and unto His glory alone will last.  Aim not to leave a legacy for mankind to venerate you, but for God to be honored.

What report do you want to give when you meet Him, face to face?